Creating Communities

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Science  16 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5656, pp. 281
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5656.281c

Studies of community assembly rarely address historical processes over evolutionary time. Gillespie (p. 356; see the cover) uses the distinctive chronological arrangement of the Hawaiian Islands, coupled with an adaptive radiation of Tetragnatha spiders, to examine the evolutionary aspects of community assembly. The successive formation times of the islands provide snapshots of communities at different stages of development and allow the temporal patterns of species accumulation through adaptive radiation to be compared with those known from ecological studies of colonization. The patterns revealed are the same as those expected from colonization alone, with species number increasing to a maximum on an island of intermediate age, before declining to similar numbers on each of the older islands. Thus, the principles underlying community assembly may be universal.

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